Hammer Time

Well, folks, ever since that minor little bit of knee surgery the week after Christmas, I’ve felt about as useless as handlebars on an under-inflated football. I have gotten back to the point where I can dress myself and make it from point A to point B as long as there aren’t any stairs and there’s no expectation of rapid arrival. After we got home from church Wednesday night, I decided I’d try to do something to justify my existence and I knew just the project.

One of the towel bars in the bathroom keeps coming loose. It’s one of those lovely chromium models from the Sixties with the smooth round baseplate that mounts over the little gizmo that’s screwed into the wall so the only exposed screw is the little set screw that’s so tiny you need a micro-driver to adjust it. If you weren’t real careful when you were pulling a towel off the bar, the whole thing would pop loose and drop to the floor. I’d already put it back on about a dozen times in the three months I’ve been living here in Ark City. Apparently inspired by the energetic lesson I’d just heard on Living the Abundant Life, I decided to be abundant in my fix-it-up ministry.

I had noticed the mounting plate was sitting at an angle so I unscrewed the two screws holding it in place and immediately diagnosed the cause of the tilting; the heads of the plastic anchors extended out past the wall tile. An old chisel and a hammer soon rectified that situation. “There,” I congratulated myself as I screwed the plate back on at a nice even plane, “that’ll take care of that.”

Then, I tried to re-attach the mounting plate and horizontal rod. The plate would not re-attach, apparently because of a slight deformity on the left hand side of the gizmo. So, I un-screwed the plate once again and flipped it around so that the defect was on the opposite side, away from the set screw. Then I tried, once again, to re-attach the mounting plate. It still would not re-attach.

“Well, isn’t this fortuitous?” I thought in my completely calm and not even slightly perturbed manner. Okay, that might not be an exact quote or even a remotely accurate paraphrase but I did think something that was only slightly less than appreciative of the opportunity for more advanced problem solving.

I then noticed when I held the plate in place that the rod was too long and forced the plate to sit at an angle. So, I carefully estimated the excess and then carefully cut off that amount with a tiny little hacksaw from my plumbing toolbox. It was still too long. So, with due gratitude for the occasion, I cut off a bit more with the same tiny hacksaw. Much to everyone’s surprise, the length was just right. It was not too short as many of you expected it to be.

But the base plate would still not slide onto the mounting gizmo. So, I unscrewed it for the third time and tried to see if it would fit into the base when it was not attached to the wall. It would not. The hammer served to rectify that situation. The base had been deformed at some point in previous efforts to secure the towel rod. It was a bit too wide and now it is not. Thanks to the hammer. I re-attached the base plate for the final time.

The mounting plate slid right into place and I used my teeny-tiny little micro-screwdriver and tightened the set screw snugly against the mounting base. I believe a small person could now use the towel bar to do pull-ups. But I will not make that suggestion.

What I will suggest is that the microcosm of my ugly little outdated bathroom reminded me that the first idea is not always the best fix and that understanding the true cause of a problem is of great value in arriving at a good solution. And that sometimes a hammer is exactly what you need even when you’re not dealing with gnats or nails. Somehow all of that reminded me of the various ways by which God has disciplined me over the years. And I will also confess that I prefer the tiny turns of the adjusting screw to the force of His hammer. But in those times when I ignored the tiny turns, the hammer was always effective.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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